The Journey to Self-Reliance

  • Helping Countries to Solve Their Own Development Challenges

USAID is reorienting its strategies, partnership models, and program practices to achieve greater development outcomes and work toward a time when foreign assistance is no longer necessary.  We call it the Journey to Self-Reliance.  As partners on this journey, we are empowering host country governments and our partners to achieve locally-sustained results, helping countries mobilize public and private revenues, strengthening local capacities, and accelerating enterprise-driven development.  This approach fosters stable, resilient, and prosperous countries that are more self-reliant, and prioritizes enduring partnerships.  It is an approach that is good for our partner countries worldwide, U.S. national security, and the American taxpayer.

A Framework for the Future


USAID’s new Policy Framework articulates how the Agency’s Journey to Self-Reliance approach directly contributes to the United States’ National Security Strategy and the Department of State and USAID Joint Strategic Plan. With its focus on fostering self-reliance, the Policy Framework presents a new vision for development and humanitarian assistance: building a country’s capacity to plan, finance, and implement solutions to local development changes, and ensuring that there is a commitment to see these solutions through effectively, inclusively, and with accountability.

Country Roadmaps Help Us Assess Country Progress
To facilitate this shift, USAID needs to understand how self-reliant each of its partner countries is overall – as well as each country’s self-reliance strengths and challenges – and tailor its partnerships accordingly. The Journey to Self-Reliance Country Roadmap is USAID’s standardized analytical tool for measuring country progress across the dimensions of commitment and capacity based on 17 third party, publicly available metrics. The Journey to Self-Reliance Country Roadmap Portal includes Roadmaps for all low- and middle-income countries.

Operationalizing the
Journey to Self-Reliance


Integration of self-reliance into USAID’s program and planning processes supports cross-Agency efficiency and effectiveness.

Self-Reliance and the Program Cycle
The Program Cycle is USAID’s operational model for planning, delivering, assessing, and adapting development programming to achieve more effective and sustainable results. To make self-reliance move from theory to reality, Country Development Cooperation Strategies (CDCSs), regional plans, project and activity designs, monitoring and evaluation plans, and collaborating, learning, and adapting activities are all being re-oriented around the concept of self-reliance. Project design and implementation follows prioritized activities in the CDCS and integrates successful approaches for self-reliance. Monitoring and evaluation will play a key role in helping understand how best to help partner countries achieve self-reliance.

Building Knowledge: The Learning Agenda
The Self-Reliance Learning Agenda contributes to a broader understanding of self-reliance and aid effectiveness, and addresses critical knowledge gaps. The Learning Agenda generates, collects, synthesizes, disseminates evidence and learning, and facilitates their use to inform USAID’s efforts to support countries on their journeys to self-reliance.

Catalyzing Self-Reliance
USAID strengthens the ability of partner countries to sustainably support their own development agendas through initiatives that address key aspects:

  • Financing Self-Reliance improves countries’ abilities to finance their own economic and social development by introducing a holistic Agency approach to supporting countries to mobilize public revenues and expend resources effectively, transparently, and with accountability, while creating the enabling conditions for private investment and functioning capital markets.
  • Private Sector Engagement brings financial and technical expertise to development programs to address challenges that require resources beyond what governments can supply.  The private sector has a growing role to play in solving global development problems.
  • Redefining our Relationships with Partner Governments is seeking to promote greater commitment from and to strengthen the capacity of partner governments as they lead their country’s Journey to Self-Reliance.

Related Links

USAID Administrator Mark Green’s 2018 address at UNGA 73 and transcript.

Last updated: August 06, 2019

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